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Richard Dawkins

Discussion in 'Non-Music Chat' started by Staypuff, Aug 21, 2014.

  1. JasonWakefield

    JasonWakefield New Member

    I don't think any of the choices you listed are immoral. I think Dawkins used a poor choice of word to get his point across which, given how keen everyone is to hate Richard Dawkins, was bound to result in yet another Twitter controversy. The emotive word of "immoral" left him open to accusations of personal judgement against parents of down syndrome children, which his later post showed wasn't his intention. The poor choice of wording was his oversight. However once he clarified further in an appropriately longer post, the point he was making was a sound one which I agree with.

    In the same way AgentW doesn't understand why I would rather be direct about sensitive issues, I don't understand why someone would choose to have a child with down syndrome if they have the option to abort. I think it is an illogical choice to make, a choice worth questioning even (in the spirit of enlightenment, NOT personal judgement), but it is also down to individual preference which is absolutely fine. I wouldn't personally feel attached to an unfeeling, unthinking collection of cells, but if you and your wife do feel attached and think of it as a little person then you can of course choose to ignore everything I say. Do what you think is good and right for your family.

    The context where he was asked an opinion by someone he knows and respects, and he answered directly and honestly in a format that doesn't allow for nuance. The media was very keen to print the tweet all over the front pages to make out he was trying to impose a twisted Social-Darwinism-esque ideology onto all disabled people. They do this because it results in more clicks which generate more money. Dawkins was then accused of being a fame-whore for what was a journalist's decision to print the tweet everywhere. The tweet was treated as if it represented his entire viewpoint, even after he had clarified his intention in a more meaningful, humane post. The worst thing he can be accused of is using a poor choice of words.

    Twitter is very useful for opportunistic journalists because it easily allows for spin, and this is why at the start of the thread I questioned why Dawkins continues to use it. I now take the standpoint that Dawkins shouldn't shut himself up just because other people are keen to misrepresent his views. The issue is with irresponsible journalism, and the issue should never be with the act of expressing an opinion about a sensitive topic.
     
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  3. ohgee

    ohgee New Member

    And how about the following tweet, where he suggests that there is more value to autistic people existing in society than Down's, and implies this is another factor in making the choice? Out of context? Not what he really meant? I only have the words he wrote to go by.

    I'm not keen to hate Dawkins. A lot of his positions I strongly agree with. I would love to be able to use his example in debates with friends. But I can't, because time and again he makes rash, unsubstantiated comments that undermine his credibility.
     
  4. JasonWakefield

    JasonWakefield New Member

    The tweet I think you're talking about said "People on that spectrum have a great deal to contribute, Maybe even an enhanced ability in some respects. DS not enhanced." It is true that people with Down syndrome generally have more of a disadvantage than autistic people (subject to context and individual circumstance, of course). Why is it frowned upon to make a distinction between two potential disorders that your potential child might have? It is obvious that some disorders are more severe than others and may lead to more suffering. If there was some twisted scenario in which we had to make a choice between having a child with autism or a child with Down syndrome, many would go with autism. But obviously it isn't preferable to have either. No one wants their child to be disabled.

    Dawkins has referenced both "potential suffering" and "potential contribution to society" as factors that may influence our personal decisions as to whether we abort a child or not. I think this is fine, sort of, but I would question whether "contribution" should be a reason at all. I don't think we should have more right to live if we have more to give to society. But again, we are talking about people that don't actually exist and don't actually have thoughts or feelings about it yet. We are also talking about personal preference - some people might want their children to contribute more to society, which is fine. Dawkins hasn't imposed any decisions onto anyone, and he hasn't made any personal judgements about autistic or Down syndrome people. He has just stated an opinion about where he might draw the line between different disorders in potential children he might have had, which is absolutely fine for him to do. Everyone has the right to do that, which is essentially the right to make choices about our own potential children.

    If you read all these tweets in their full context, they were included in a discussion where a few people were expressing opinions to each other about abortion and disability, and asking questions about where each would draw the line with different disabilities, if they drew a line at all. Some weren't comfortable with it, but the person that Dawkins' tweets were directed at was clearly appreciative that it was an interesting discussion to be having with someone whose opinion she valued. Yet the media was keen to make the tweets out to be some kind of aggressive, imposing, moral bullying on disabled people. This. Is. Insane.
     
  5. ohgee

    ohgee New Member

    But he didn't just say it to her did he? He said it to a million people. And the reason a lot of people got upset about it was that the way he said it was fucking rude. I've not been manipulated by the media into disliking Dawkins; I dislike him because he's frequently a ****, and this whole episode is a classic example of that. Ask yourself why so many people like me dislike Dawkins: it certainly isn't because we're all right-wing, God-fearing pro-life bigots with our heads buried in the sand. It isn't because we all "know or care for someone with Down's" as Dawkins patronisingly suggested in his so-called apology, the one where he apologised, lest we forget, that we were all too stupid to get his point. He has a below adequate level of social fucking decency. That's my emotional response, because - guess what? - people have emotions.
     
  6. JoeBRG

    JoeBRG Member

    Favourite Bands:
    Radiohead/Shellac/Wu
    [​IMG]

    This sort of sums up Dawkins for me. The lecture about what kinds of rape/paedophilia (MILD PAEDOPHILIA?!!) are worse followed by his signature friendly, patient GO AWAY AND LEARN HOW TO THINK.


    And to think, "the media was keen to make the tweets out to be some kind of aggressive, imposing, moral bullying." Wonder what gave them the idea he was like that...
     
  7. JasonWakefield

    JasonWakefield New Member

    Richard Dawkins actually suffered from "mild paedophilia" when he was a child. One of his teachers sat him on their lap, put their hands down his pants for a moment and made him feel very uncomfortable, and then the incident soon ended. Dawkins has the decency to point out that this was significantly less harmful to him than other kinds of child rape that have happened to other people, and he is called an indecent, stupid wanker for making the distinction. It's almost as if no one ever wants to admit there are grey areas in sensitive topics. THIS is a harmful and destructive approach to sensitive topics, and THIS is why I despise the media's manipulative, angry approach to everything Dawkins says. Even when his words are victimless, they still must be criminal somehow. It's like being punished for thinking aloud and daring to have an opinion. Being so emotional and irate about these topics only serves to shut down discussions which are very important to have!

    But some people just aren't comfortable with a direct approach to logic and truth, and that's fine. People also get defensive when they have been ridiculed, which is to be expected really. People do have feelings about certain topics which can be hurt. But it still doesn't make him wrong, and trying to twist his words and views so that he looks more ignorant than he is, and more of an emotionless monster than he is, only goes to show how feeble the ideas he has ridiculed really are.

    Ridicule, if done right, can serve a purpose. Ridicule is actually what you are both using against Darren Major right now in the other thread about ISIS, and justifiably so because Darren Major has expressed some stupid, racist beliefs. However when Richard Dawkins uses a significantly less abusive level of ridicule to people who can't use basic logic, he is a monster. See points l) and m) in my post about memes earlier:

    Shaaaaaame on you both. Anyway, this conversation now reminds me of this clip from Friends:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JAgbn3GZ3js
     
  8. ohgee

    ohgee New Member

    It's unclear who the 'both' you refer to here is. As myself and JoeBRG were the last two people to respond to you, I would guess you mean me, but I haven't contributed to the other thread, so perhaps you're referring to someone else. It's important because later on you say:

    ...and if it's me you mean, I take exception to it. I haven't called Dawkins a monster; I've called him a ****. And I've made no reference to his other comments on religion or paedophilia, or indeed anything which isn't directly related to the original post in this thread. He could do everything he has done (and would be more productive in doing so) with a level of civility that he has chosen not to employ. You have defended him because you say what he has said is worth saying. I argue that if that if what he has said is worth saying, it's worth saying well. I don't believe he's done that, and I think it's wholly his fault that his words have been "taken out of context" (your phrase; as far as I can see his words were taken entirely in context, that is, a thoughtless and provocative comment which may have been a response to one person, but was actually addressed to the whole planet).
     
  9. JasonWakefield

    JasonWakefield New Member

    Apologies, my mistake.

    Tomayto, tomahto. It's still a petty, unjustified comment that doesn't disprove the logic of anything he has said.

    I definitely agree with this. So does Dawkins, hence why he apologised for using the abbreviated phraseology which caused so much upset, and clarified the intention behind his tweet further. He successfully clarified his point, in a civil, humane way too. But he might as well not have with the amount of petty vitriol he's still receiving for views he doesn't actually hold.

    This illogical nonsense is precisely why I keep saying people seem keen to dislike him, or have been misled by the media regarding his character, or both.

    You have just addressed me directly in a post that is available for the entire world to see. Are you addressing the whole planet? No you are not, and neither was Dawkins, but you'll keep saying he was anyway because you really want him to be a rude, obnoxious bully. Just imagine for a moment that a newspaper took one of your more glib comments on this thread and splashed it on their front page to make you look like a villain. You then have thousands of people calling you money-and-attention-hungry, but when you try to clarify your points further everyone still continues to hate you anyway. This is wicked. I'm sorry but you really have bought into destructive, sensationalist media garbage.

    I'm going to stop debating with you now because I've said everything I can and I don't think you'll budge, which is sad but also fair enough. I understand he is a controversial character with controversial views, which is fine. He might amend his wording sometimes, but at least he doesn't change his actual opinions for the sake of pleasing people. This would be intellectual dishonesty - a sin far greater than stridency.

    My final words in the discussion are:

    1) Always question the motives of the media.
    2) Emotions often have a tendency to cloud truth and logic - don't let them get in the way.
    3) Expressing an opinion is not the same as imposing an opinion.
    4) Have a little more optimism, and give people the benefit of the doubt.
    5) Avoid petty or ad hominem comments when trying to argue someone is less moral, or else you might defeat the objective.
     
  10. JasonWakefield

    JasonWakefield New Member

    One last thing!

    Thank you for a very interesting discussion.
     
  11. JimShatner

    JimShatner Member


    Absolutely brilliant post, completely nails the religion-as-pernicious-meme idea.
     
  12. bongobenny

    bongobenny Well-Known Member

    Jason was quite into this thread wasn't he...?To like a ridiculous level. you could probably splice up your comments on this thread Jason and release a book on it there's that much.
     
  13. ohgee

    ohgee New Member

    I don't think they are synonymous as you suggest - you wouldn't say, for instance: "Polpot? He was a bit of a ****, wasn't he?" Monster is a much stronger epithet. Petty, unjustified? Well, yes, I'd have to confess to that. Doesn't disprove the logic of anything he's said? Well, I haven't tried to do that at any step of the proceedings. I've said his posts lacked thoroughness and care.

    To some extent he did, which I accepted a long, long time ago, in one of my first posts. But I don't believe he fully explored the implications of his statement, because he didn't address the myriad reasons parents might have for justifiably keeping a Down's baby, beyond a loose concession that there might be more debate to be had. He undermined this with the title of the post, and his other shut-downs of criticism and debate.

    It seemed logical to me when I wrote it, and reading it back it still seems logical to me now. You haven't explained to me why it's not.

    I am. Anyone on the whole planet is free to take me to task on anything I say on here, whether I direct it at you or not. I doubt LMF has the same following worldwide as twitter, but the principle is sound.

    Why would I want him to be that? You keep telling me what I think about things, and worse, why I think them. And your attitude envelopes not just me, but anyone who has the gall to criticise Dawkins. We've all been duped by the wicked, duplicitous media into our dislike of the man. This is ironic because later you say:

    Maybe you should have a little more optimism about your fellow humans. I've criticised one man; you've criticised thousands who, in your view have "bought into destructive, sensationalist media garbage" simply because they don't agree with Dawkins, or don't like the way he addresses issues on twitter.

    The first sentence here could of course be said with equal validity by me about you. The rest of this paragraph I'm 100% happy to sign off on. But you make one last point I feel I can't leave unchallenged.

    I'm not disagreeing with this as such; rather I want to assert that emotions, whilst not being the basis of a morality, have a huge amount to play in it. I tried to say this before, maybe not clearly enough. If a logical morality cannot find room for parents who simply cannot bring themselves to end the life they see beginning on the ultrasound screen at their first scan, no matter what circumstances that child might be born into, then I cannot accept that morality.

    Thank you also.
     

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